There are many reasons someone may need to move into a nursing home. Nursing home care may be needed because of a chronic illness, the need for help during rehabilitation, a disability that requires skilled care or because an elderly loved one can no longer live independently.
The selection of a nursing home is a big responsibility. The decision is often made on behalf of a parent or loved one. Reports about nursing home abuse and neglect in Albuquerque and elsewhere underscore the importance of making a careful decision. Elder abuse and neglect can categorized in a few different ways such as, financial abuse, physical abuse, elder neglect leading to bed sores, over medication and more. A January 2018 Report of the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said more than 11,500 instances of elder abuse are reported each year to the New Mexico Adult Protective Services Division.
Here are five issues to keep in mind to help you make a well-considered decision when looking for a nursing home.
Determine What You Want from a Nursing Home
There are 76 licensed nursing facilities in New Mexico, the New Mexico Heath Care Association (NMHCA) says. They have an average of 91 residents per facility. The member directory of the NMHCA, a professional trade association for facility-based long-term care providers, lists about 20 nursing homes in Albuquerque.
When looking for a nursing home, first determine your loved one’s healthcare needs, as well as any spiritual or lifestyle needs you will want a nursing home to accommodate. Talk to family, friends, doctors, social workers, ministers, hospital discharge planners, or others you trust and ask for recommendations.
You might also visit the NMHCA directory above or Medicare’s directory to find nursing homes in Albuquerque or elsewhere.
Compare Nursing Home Quality
Several online tools allow you to review the quality of care a nursing home is likely to provide. Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare page provides access to detailed information about every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. Select a facility that is Medicare-certified, an indication that the facility is inspected regularly for compliance with certain federal health and safety standards.
The New Mexico Department of Health’s Health Facility Provider Search system allows you to obtain state survey reports for annual inspections of nursing homes and surveys conducted in response to complaints or as a follow-up to previous investigations. The system allows you to search all state-licensed healthcare providers in New Mexico by their service type, the county or city they’re located in, or by a provider’s name.
Visit Several New Mexico Nursing Home Facilities
Get prepared to ask questions and keep notes, and then contact several nursing homes to schedule visits.
A nursing home visit gives you the chance to see the facilities and the residents and staff interacting during the daily nursing home routine. It also allows you to ask questions of the nursing home staff and talk with residents and their visiting family members. Ask to talk to a member of the resident council, which each nursing home is supposed to have.
Here’s a Medicare Nursing Home Checklist with questions about resident life, nursing home living spaces, staff, residents’ rooms, hallways, stairs, lounges, bathrooms, menus and food, activities, safety, and care. Familiarize yourself with the questions and print out a list of questions for each visit. Take someone with you who is naturally outgoing and inquisitive and/or who can take notes for you.
Make a second visit to the facilities on your short list without calling ahead. Try another day of the week or time of day so you meet different staff members and see different activities. Stop by at mealtime to see what the food is like and how well residents seem to enjoy meals.
Know What the Nursing Home Provides and Requires
Once you select a nursing home, carefully read the contract. Ask the director or assistant director to explain anything you don’t understand. If they are not happy to respond to your questions now, that is an indicator of how they’ll treat your concerns later.
Know how you will pay for nursing home care. According to the American Health Care Association, Medicaid pays for 63 percent of nursing facility residents. Twenty-three percent of residents pay for the care themselves, while 13 percent rely on Medicare. Long-term care insurance pays for only 1 percent of care.
Know Your Nursing Home Rights and Resources
Nursing home residents are specifically protected by federal law and New Mexico state laws that reflect federal law. The federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination. The law requires skilled nursing facilities to “protect and promote the rights of each resident” and, when you move into a nursing home, you should be provided a copy of Residents’ Rights.
Federal law requires each state to have a long-term care ombudsman who acts as an advocate for nursing home residents. New Mexico’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman works through the N.M. Aging and Long-Term Services Department. The Ombudsman staff is expected to hear nursing home residents’ complaints and work with all parties involved to resolve problems and improve both the quality of life and quality of care for residents in long-term care facilities. The service is free and confidential.
You should understand your rights as a nursing home resident, or the rights of a loved one who lives in a nursing home, and be ready to act if they are not met. If you visit a family member in a nursing home who complains about the home or how they are being treated, do not dismiss the concerns. Ask nursing home management about any concerns voiced, and if they are not fully resolved, take immediate steps to protect your loved one.
We’ll Stand Up For Your Rights
The Albuquerque nursing home negligence attorneys at Parnall Law Firm are ready to help you fight nursing home abuse and neglect. Our experienced trial attorneys have represented personal injury victims since 1997. We are committed to providing our clients with compassionate legal counseling and aggressive representation. Call us today at 505-207-0144 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation if you think you or a loved one is being mistreated at a New Mexico nursing home or similar long-term care facility.